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How perfumes and inferior masking agents messes with your hormones

Although many of us love our signature scent, it likely contains chemicals that may wreck havoc on our hormone function. I'm not suggesting we ditch fragrances, but it’s important to know what we are putting on our bodies and to be smart consumers.

Here’s what every woman needs to know about perfume, its impact on hormones, and how to find safer scents:

1. Phthalates are hiding in synthetic perfumes.

Phthalates are associated with serious health issues, but you won’t find them listed on the labels. Ingredients in perfumes are considered a trade secret, so manufacturers can hide hundreds of chemicals under the term “fragrance.” The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found phthalates in 70% of the perfumes they tested, but they weren't listed on any of the labels.

2. Phthalates are known hormone disruptors.

We’ve heard that hormone disruptors are bad, but what exactly do they do?

A hormone disruptor is a synthetic chemical that when absorbed into the body acts like a hormone. Phthalates effect our hormones by either mimicking or blocking our bodies natural hormones, which leads to disruption of the body’s normal functions. Our bodies produce small amounts of hormones every day, so even slight variations in hormone levels can lead to problems like infertility, metabolic issues, breast cancer, birth defects, diabetes, obesity and more. A recent study from Brigham and Women's Hospital linked phthalates to an increased risk for preterm birth.

3. Wearing perfume effects the health of those around you

When we wear perfume we are increasing the levels of those around us in addition to our personal levels.

For the men in our life, increased phthalate levels have been linked to infertility and decreased sperm count.

For our children, phthalates have been linked to obesity, asthma, behavioral problems, genital changes in boys and early puberty in girls.

A big price to pay for smelling pretty?

4. Avoiding perfume is the most effective way to decrease phthalate exposure.

A recent study tested the urine of pregnant women and found women who used perfume had phthalate concentrations 167 percent higher than non-users.

5. There are natural alternatives (that you will love!).

Avoiding phthalate-loaded perfumes doesn’t mean we have to forgo beautiful scents. Natural perfumes made from essential oils and botanical ingredients are free of synthetic fragrances and other chemicals. Read the labels and look for brands that list natural oils, plants, or specifically state they don’t contain phthalates. Any time you see the ingredient “fragrance” listed on a label, assume phthalates are also present.

Are synthetic perfumes worth the risk? Getting the phthalates out of our bodies means a reduced risk of serious health issues. By choosing natural perfumes we can make a big difference in our exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, and to those around us. Small changes in the products we use does make a difference.



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